Lake Superior State University
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Alum Success

Amanda is currently working to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. Where she is studying the behavior of fossil birds as interpreted through their footprints and other traces. Amanda recently traveled to South Korea to study Early Cretaceous bird tracks and has published two papers on fossil bird tracks, one in the journal Palaios and one in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology. Next, she will study Early Cretaceous fossil birds and bird tracks in China.

"My experience at Lake State, preparing an Undergraduate Thesis and seeing the project through definitely helped prepare me for graduate school. The interaction between the professors and the students at Lake State is far more similar to the interaction between a graduate student and their graduate advisor than the typical undergraduate student / undergraduate advisor rapport; it's much more personalized. It definitely helped prepare me for grad school."

Amanda Falk '07
Biology, minor in Chemistry

School of Biological Sciences

Saltwater Aquarium

Originally home to native species of freshwater fish, the aquarium that calls the Crawford Hall lobby home has recently undergone extensive remodeling. John Griffioen, an LSSU biology major, recognized the potential of a fully functioning coral reef system in a high-traffic area on the University's campus. With the help of generous companies and individuals, students have raised well over $3,000 in supplies, equipment, and livestock for this project. Over the course of two semesters, the existing fish were given new homes, the tank was drained, thoroughly cleaned, plumbed, and refilled with saltwater, live rock, and sand. The new system saw the addition of an overflow, a sump filtration system, and a new lighting fixture, capable of supporting the corals that would soon call this aquarium home. Throughout the course of the next few semesters livestock was added to the system, and various upgrades and tweaks were made to the plumbing and lighting systems. 


The saltwater aquarium is now home to a variety of organisms. The most popular organisms are likely the mated pair of ocellaris clownfish that have adopted not one, but two of the bubble-tip anemones in the tank. The aquarium is also home to other species of reef fish including wrasses and a sand-sifiting diamond goby. Additionally, the reef tank harbors many species of invertebrates. Emerald crabs, cleaner shrimp, blue-leg hermit crabs, and cerith snails all cruise the rocks and sand looking to pick up their next meal. Various soft, small polyp, and large polyp corals also have found a place on the reef. These corals range from colonial organisms such as zooanthids, to larger stony corals such as frogspawn, or the fan-like gorgonian that dominates much of one side. 



Although this reef aquarium supports several species of organisims it provides only a hint of what an actual coral reef looks like. Herein lies the ultimate purpose of this display, to bring awareness to the beauty, diversity, and delicacy of coral reef ecosystems. Coral reefs rival tropical rainforests in biodiversity and are certainly the most diverse aquatic system in the world. Reefs harbor 25% of all known marine species and are unique in their structure and function. The interactions amongst species and the amazing adaptations found on the reef are hard to comprehend without a visual example. However, these incredibly intricate ecosystems are also quite delicate and are facing destruction. Pollution, improper collection, and overfishing threaten these complex and beautiful communities.
 


The future of this saltwater aquarium now lies in the area of education and awareness. The student organizers of this project hope to soon display informative signs near the aquarium to raise awareness within the University community about the complexity and importance of coral reef ecosystems. Equipment and livestock changes will be pursued to improve the health and appeal of the system. Currently the project is run almost exclusively on donations from aquarium companies and generous community members. If you would like to donate to this project and further the work of these students, please contact Lake Superior State University staff member Mary St. Antoine

 

Generous Contributions Provided:

Richard & Karen Serfass
Sarah Serfass-Mobley
Moby Dick Pet Store Inc.

 

 

 

 


In memory of Ray Reilly - Professor Emeritus

Investigat- ing the Use of QPCR: An Early Detection Method for Toxic Cyano- bacterial Bloom

Garrett Aderman

Harmful algal blooms (HABs), including cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CHABs), are a global phenomenon. In the US, annual economic loss due to HABs was recently estimated at $82 million. Furthermore, the consensus amongst the scientific community is that the frequency and duration of CHABs in freshwater systems will increase as a result of climate change and anthropogenic nutrient enrichment. Due to the ability of some strains of CHAB genera to produce toxic compounds, larger and more sustained CHAB events will become an even greater threat to drinking water. Of all the known cyantoxoins, one of the most ubiquitous is microcystin (MCY). Humans are primarily exposed to cyantoxins through drinking water consumption and accidental ingestion of recreational water. The increasing risk presented by these toxins requires health officials and utilities to improve their ability to track the occurrence and relative toxicity. Current tracking methods do not distinguish between toxic and non-toxic strains. Biochemical techniques for analyzing the toxins are showing considerable potential as they are relatively simple to run and low cost. My goal was to develop a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) method to measure the amount of mcyE gene in a Lake Erie drinking water and compare the levels of the mcyE to toxin produced. This is the first step to determining if the presence of mcyE of the mycrocystin synthestase gene cluster in Microcystits, Planktothrix and Anabaena cells can be used as the quantitative measurement in an early detection warning system for recreational and drinking waters.

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